The Law of Diminishing Returns

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About my own faith-life I have reached a conclusion that emphatically will not apply to all, but which may apply to others.

The more I worry about such important things as justification and the mechanics and details of atonement and salvation, the less capable I am of living anything like a life of faith and belief.

While there is no certainty as to the origins of the problem, it would seem to stem from an inability to atomize, to dissect, as it were, and to regard the object under the microscope as the living fabric of faith that it is. More simply stated, I cannot at once concern myself with these things that strike me as the mechanics and mechanisms of salvation and with the Person through whom redemption and salvation have come. The analytic intellect clicks in and all that looms large is the meticulous reality of the great machine that whirs and clicks away.

It's a shame, but the personal, in this small case in my life, means far more than the theoretical. And it's strange because in most other aspects, the exact opposite holds true. Calculus and higher mathematics were always a breeze so long as they were theory along, once they became "practical," they were a sheer muddle.

Not so in the encounter with the Savior. The Person of Christ looms large, and in that Person all that appertains; they are part and parcel and I need not try to fathom how one works within the Other. I need merely accept that the Person of my salvation cares about me with a love that transcends time and death.

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Not to be flippant, but that's why you are a lay Carmelite. :) While I lean much more towards the Dominican side of things, I still feel the force of what you describe here: whatever analysis and understanding I might engage in, there comes a point beyond which lies intellectual hubris and the dissolution of the life of faith. That's also why my own miniscule theological work will probably remain amateur to the day I die; I suspect that, were I to go in for academic theology, the law of diminishing returns would catch up to me with a vengeance.

Dear Klaus,

Not at all flippant. I have a feeling that what you say was in the back of my mind as I was thinking about the Carmelite vocation. I had a very good friend who told me that Carmelites were all heart no head (not precisely true) and that I was much more cut out for Dominicans or Benedictines. As insufferable as I sometimes am as a mere Carmelite, I hesitate to think what kind of monster I might have been had I chosen to go elsewhere.

But then, that's why it's called a vocation. If you're discerning properly, it isn't where YOU want to go, but where God wants you to go, isn't it?

Thanks for the comment--truer words. . .



I can so relate to this post Steven. I suppose I would not make a very good Dominican either.

This Dominican tertiary has long counted on being able to use the approach suggested by the Dutch author Corrie Ten Boom in her book, Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle.

Dear Marion,

Which makes you unusual among the Dominican Tertiaries I'm acquainted with. And which goes to show the diversity of people within a healthy Order.

Thanks for commenting.



Not so in the encounter with the Savior.

I suspect, with the analogy properly aligned, you'll find that it is so in the encounter with the Savior.

The parallel is theoretical mathematics is to revelation as applied mathematics is to theology. There's certainly nothing "practical" about a love that transcends time and death.

Dear Tom,

It took me a while to puzzle through what you were saying, not because you were unclear but it sometimes (particularly after a long day at work) takes me a long time to sort things out. But if I follow you correctly, you were saying that what I described was only an apparent dilemma depending upon how one correlated the analogy. (At first I thought you were saying something about the relative penetrability of theology--density is a subject about which I know much from experience.) If this restates your thought, I can see your point and it makes a lot of sense.

Thank you.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 21, 2006 10:03 AM.

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